That’s the best way I can describe the night markets in Taipei, Taiwan. They are an assault on all of your senses.
Jam-packed with people, a myriad of tiny shops lining each side of the street, and vendors crammed tightly together along the center, I remember my first moments as I rounded the corner. I didn’t know where to look first. It’s one of the few places in the world where I’ve truly felt…
It really is a whole other world.
The first thing I noticed was the sheer volume of people. Think Black Friday at WalMart volume of people. Elbow-to-elbow, you get caught in the massive stream of people flowing up one side of the street or down the other. This crush of humanity means if you want to go back and see something, you have to:
- Make your way to the center of the street,
- Shove through to one of the center walkways,
- Then get swept downstream on the other side, and finally…
- Only to try to make your way back up to the thing you wanted to see.
It’s a little crazy! But, so much fun!
The next thing I noticed was the smells.
Be aware. These are some seriously unique smells. Most of those smells are due to the interesting food. Stinky tofu (it’s literally rotten tofu) was the absolute worst. In fact, it was so bad that I couldn’t stop to take a photo. Sorry, guys. I know it’s a popular delicacy, but it was just beyond me.
Luckily, there were lots of other unique cuisine offerings to photograph…
I’m fairly certain the vendor on the left was selling deep-friend creatures from Men in Black. You know, the little alien baby squid Will Smith helped deliver? Google it. I think you’ll agree.
There’s also the shopping! Clothing, watches, purses, toys… and, lots and lots of cell phone cases. Seriously, I have never seen so many cell phone cases in my life! Of course, there’s also lots of jade jewelry for sale.
All prices are negotiable on merchandise. If you’re obviously a tourist – yes, my daughter and I as blondes stuck out like sore thumbs – prices will be more expensive.
The nice thing, if your Mandarin is a little rusty (or, in my case, non-existent) most vendors will give you the price on a calculator. You can see the calculator the jade jewelry vendor used in the photo below. You can then type in the price you want to pay and let the haggling begin!
BTD Tip! The easiest way to tell if a jade piece you’re buying or not is real is to rub an edge of it against a piece of glass. If it’s real, it will scratch the glass, because jade is harder than glass. If it doesn’t scratch the glass… keep shopping! 😀
Of course, my favorite part of the night market we visited was the leg and foot massage! Yes… massage! At the Raohe Street Night Market, there’s a little massage shop. Chairs are lined up inside the small space, arranged in front of a large flat panel television (they were playing Princess Diaries 2 when I went in LOL).
After a long day of sightseeing, the massage I received was simply a slice of Heaven! I never wanted to leave! Plus, it came with a nice cup of tea, to relax with as the gal massaged away my sore feet and legs. Bonus!
Even though most people only spoke very limited English, and I spoke no Mandarin, everyone was incredibly nice. They were, obviously, eager to make a sale, but many also were just as eager to try out the small amount of English they did know!